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Priest Hardcover – June, 1973

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 563 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (June 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9997402545
  • ISBN-13: 978-9997402547
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,527,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J. Ashton on March 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a page-turner. I lost two nights of sleep reading it. The author, Ralph McInerny, is a brilliant writer and scholar. When he died in 2010 at the age of 81, he had 111 books to his credit, many of which were best-sellers. He is best known for the Father Dowling mysteries, made eventually into a television series.

McInerny was a professor at Notre Dame and publisher of Crisis magazine, a Gifford lecturer and Jacques Maritain scholar. He and his wife Connie had seven children, burying one. How in the Sam Hill did the man have time to write? The Priest was his first big seller, over a million copies in the early 70s. It follows a young priest in the aftermath of Vatican II, in the summer of 1968. In July of that year, Pope Paul VI shocked the modern Catholic by coming out against artificial contraception. The general rebellion which had already been going on for some time came out in full force that year: as a Protestant in my second year of graduate school I only vaguely remember the conflict.

I am a Catholic now, and I enjoyed the "insider feel", the "Gossip" of these stories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. An aging pastor changes many lives by putting his church's financial well-being ahead of his flock. There is ambition and self-protection in the upper echelons. Nuns and priests fall into sins of the flesh. The Church does not look good. And yet -- it endures. There's hope, some good outcomes, some bad. McInerny keeps the suspense going. The prose is full of interest and the unexpected turn of phrase. I am surprised this book has not remained in print, unless the element of "trash and treasure", which made this reader slightly uncomfortable, eventually lessened reader recommendation.
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Format: Hardcover
In The Priest, Ralph McInery's novel of a mid-size, mid-American Catholic diocese in the turbulent summer of 1968, one elderly priest laments to another, in an incredulous way:

"They've turned us around so we're facing the congregation," to which, a younger more liberal priest might have added, sarcastically, "Yeh, and we're speaking in a language they can understand."

Another old priest laments how the number of diocesan seminarians has dipped below one hundred.

How many seminarians would they have today, if the diocese were real? In the parish where the hero of our story is assigned, upon returning from years studying in Rome, not a very large parish, there are three priests, one church. Today, in many parts of America, the ratio has been reversed, with one priest for three churches, or more than three. The priests' Sunday mornings are spent like nineteenth-century circuit-riding judges except our priests aren't on horseback.

How did it happen? When did it happen? It didn't all start in 1968 but 68 certainly accelerated the process.

1968 was a turbulent year, to be sure, and no less turbulent within the church than without. The church was awaiting the pope's decision regarding birth control and with the Vietnam War and the riots, there's plenty else going on and we get it all here, with a myriad of priests all representing different takes on just what it means to be a priest. So many priests, it takes nearly a hundred pages for the one priest, Father Frank Ascue, to emerge as the priest of the title.

Ascue is a kind of bridge between the old and the new, between the old guard, men ordained when the church was unchanged and seemed unchangeable and the impatient new guard, hungry for change.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good and fast delivery
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